Court: Judge can’t dismiss jury panels for lack of diversity

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) – An appeals court has ordered a Jefferson County circuit judge to stop dismissing jury panels he believes aren’t reflective of the community’s diversity.

Multiple media outlets report that prosecutors objected to Judge Olu Stevens’ Feb. 9 decision to agree with a black defendant’s public defender’s request and dismiss a jury panel of 41 that included only three African Americans.

In a Court of Appeals opinion Wednesday, Judge Irv Maze told Stevens the practice violates state law.

The court ruled that there wasn’t enough evidence to show that there was systematic exclusion. The law requires a jury pool to represent a cross-section of the community, but the jury panel itself isn’t required to reflect the community.

A similar case in which Stevens dismissed a jury panel is pending before the state Supreme Court.